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The Raza Unida Party (RUP) (Spanish: Partido de la Raza Unida) is a United States third political party. The official name was "Partido Nacional de La Raza Unida". It was the first third party to be formed around ethnic lines. The party was termed La Raza in reference to the Mestizo people.[1] The "La Raza Unida Party" sought better housing, job, and educational opportunities for Mexican-Americans. "Partido de la Raza Unida" literally translates as "The Party of the People." Although "raza" can be translated to "race", in this context, "raza" is an endearment term in Spanish meaning "my people".


Although La Raza Unida Party started with simultaneous efforts throughout the U.S. Southwest the most widely known and accepted story is that the La Raza Unida Party was established on January 17, 1970 in Crystal City, Texas by José Ángel Gutiérrez and Mario Compean, who had also helped in the foundation of the Mexican American Youth Organization (MAYO) in 1967. This Raza Unida Party grew out of a group called WOW or Workmen of the World. The group consisted of more than 13 members including the first Chicano Mayor of Cotulla Texas, Alfredo Zamora Jr. who defeated a member of the Cotulla family. Also part of this group was the 2nd Hispanic Mayor of Cotulla, Arcenio A. Garcia. He was the youngest mayor of the State of Texas(24) at that time. Zamora left LaSalle county within 2 years and the next election in 1972 was won by Garcia under the Raza Unida party. Previously in December 1969, at the only national MAYO meeting, Chicano activists decided on the formation of that third party Raza Unida. This new party would focus on improving the economic, social and political aspects of the Chicano community throughout Texas. This party resulted in the election of the first 2 Mexican American Mayors of LaSalle County Texas.[2]

Following the victory of the RUP in municipal elections in Crystal City and Cotulla, the party grew and expanded to other states, especially California and Colorado. In Colorado the RUP worked closely with Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales and the Crusade For Justice based out of Denver. In California the RUP spread throughout the state and held strong ground in the County of Los Angeles at one point with as many as 20 different chapters.

The novice city council was not very effective in implementing their goals, which damaged the party's reputation in the short-term. Much of the councils inneffectiveness was due to political and economic attacks by Anglo business and landowners in the the surrounding counties and also attacks by both the Republican and Democratic parties. Despite this the RUP continued to be active, however, and ran candidates for Governor of Texas throughout the 1970s. They petitioned Dr. Hector P. Garcia to run on the RUP ticket, but the conservative doctor refused. In 1972, they ran a candidate in a very competitive US Senate race in Colorado, Secundion Salazar, who received 1.4% of the vote.

During the late 1970's the La Raza Unida Party decided to change tactic from a "get out the vote" organization to a more community based, grassroots, Revolutionary Nationalist formation seeking the unity of all Chicano, Latino and Native American peoples of the Southwestern United States which is commonly referred to as Aztlan. During the same time Xenaro Ayala was voted in as National Chairman a post he holds presently.

La Raza Unida Party continues today, with chapters active in California, Texas, Arizona and New Mexico. Its official name is Partido Nacional de La Raza Unida. Its main office is located in the city of San Fernando California.


  1. ^ "La Politiquera, April, 2006a.pmd" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-11-17. 
  2. ^ "TSHA Online - RAZA UNIDA PARTY". Retrieved 2009-09-18. 
  • Armando Navarro, Mexican American Youth Organization: Avant-Garde of the Movement in Texas (University of Texas Press, 1995)
  • Armando Navarro, The Cristal Experiment: A Chicano Struggle for Community Control (University of Wisconsin Press, 1998)
  • Armando Navarro, La Raza Unida Party: A Chicano Challenge to the U.S. Two Party Dictatorship (Temple University Press, 2000)

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